We had the opportunity to interview C.C. Hill, one of Hosted Game’s up-and-coming interactive fiction authors. They’ve released interactive novels in the fantasy and horror genres, with their work being thrilling.
- How did you first get into writing? Is there any particular memory that sparked your interest?
I always wanted to write the stories stuck in my head, but never gave it any further thought because English is not my first language, and living in the US would imply publishing it in English. But with the pandemic in 2020, I was out of work for a while and I had the free time, so I decided to start writing my first story, which was a Western that had nothing to do with Horror.
- When did you first get into writing interactive fiction?
I would say around May 2020. I had known about Choice Of Games for a while, and I felt that starting with Interactive fiction was the best and quickest way to get something published. Especially with how Hosted Games operates, you write and code the story, and then they will publish it for you. For me that sounded like the ideal way to get my work out into the world.
- Is there a reason why you chose interactive fiction over more traditional methods of writing?
Yes. I heard so many horror stories about how difficult it is to make a name for yourself in the traditional publishing world, and I didn’t want to go through all that pain. Really, when I found out about Hosted Games, that’s when I decided that Interactive Fiction was the best way to become a published author, and look–almost 3 years later, it happened.
- What do you think about using video games as a storytelling medium?
It’s fun! If you think about it, everything starts with a story. Most of the video games that people like are not only enjoyable because of the good graphics, the game mechanics, or all the possible customization options. People also enjoy those games because of the story.
- Do you think it’s more unique or has more potential than other mediums?
They all have their charms. For some people spending hours playing video games isn’t the same as reading a good book by the fire on a cold November night. I don’t think one is more unique than the other, but I do think that the IF Community is still too small.
- On your Tumblr, you mention folklore from your home country being a huge inspiration. Can you retell that here?
In my home country, there is a folklore tale that portrays a monster called the master of midnight. It is a tall monster that eats children who don’t go to bed early or people who roam the streets around midnight. That’s it, that is the story, nothing more.
Parents would say to their children, be a good kid or the master of midnight will come and get you. Or they might say, don’t stay out late or the master of midnight will get you. I opted for the title Keeper instead of Master, and invented all the other details, like the Keeper’s origin, the powers, the alternate timeline, the wardens, etc. The same goes for the rest of the story.
- Do you plan on drawing from any other folklore for future interactive stories?
I’m not sure. I like the idea of writing what you know, and the folklore of Haiti is something that I know because that is where I’m from. Drawing from any other folklore would require a lot of research and a deep dive into the culture to make sure that I’m getting everything right. So, I’m not saying no, I’m saying I’m not sure.
- Your inclusion and representation of the LGBT+ community in Midnight Saga: The Monster is phenomenal, what are your thoughts on that?
Inclusion is important and should be the norm. Reading a story and being able to connect with a character because you share the same background and understand their struggle will make that story unforgettable to you. In writing The Midnight Saga, I wanted my characters to come alive for the readers to fall in love with them. And the best way to do that was to give the readers options to play as their true selves.
- Do you think more interactive fiction and games, in general, should be more inclusive?
Yes. Inclusion should be the norm, and I think the games and IF communities are currently on the right track for that.
- Did any of your own personal experiences play into including representation in the story?
Yes, and no. Writing interactive fiction means that you must leave the MC blank enough for the reader to mold it to their liking. But I was happy to be able to set the country of origin of the villain, and mention that it’s where MC’s family currently lives. That was important to me because it plays a huge part in the story, and I’m lucky to have barely gotten any pushback from the readers for that set detail.
- What was the writing process for Midnight Saga: The Monster like?
It was a roller-coaster, and I almost gave up on it. The game was very unpopular at the early stage. It was difficult to get feedback and find readers to interact with the story, so I almost gave up. But the few readers that I had at the time kept me going, and I’m glad I did because when the game was near completion, people started noticing, and here we are.
- How did you come up with the name C.C. Hill? Was there any inspiration?
No inspiration, it’s actually my real name. They are the initials of my first and middle names, plus my full last name.
- What interactive fiction authoring tool did you use for Midnight Saga: The Monster?
For the coding, I used plain notepad, and being an ESL author, I also used
- Do you have any favorite interactive fiction stories?
There is quite a long list that I would rather not name, because it will take forever. But I would say that I do enjoy stories in the genres of romance, mystery, thriller, horror, and fantasy. I also love a good comedic IF.
- Choice of Games/Hosted Games is the biggest interactive fiction publishing label. What was it like working with them?
Stressful. It was stressful because I didn’t want my game to get rejected, and I was unsure if my game would meet their standards. I did run into a snag of needing to rename the game from the original title which was supposed to be The Keeper Of Midnight. But overall, it was a good process.
- Where and who did you draw inspiration from for the other characters in Midnight Saga: The Monster?
I would say they are a mix of TV show characters and real-life people I know. Lanie/Lani’s character is literally based on someone that I know. Very jovial, [a] hardcore gamer, and oblivious to the world around them, but also someone that you can count on and who is always ready to help.
- What are your future interactive fiction plans? I did see demos up for Midnight Saga: The Hunters.
Yes, the demo of book 2 is up, and it’s called The Midnight Saga: The Hunters. In this one, the saga will continue, and MC will discover a little more about the origin of the powers and the Wardens, and of course, learn who the Hunters are. I’m also working on two other projects. Insert Rich Family Name, which is very close to completion. It’s a story about a Billionaire MC who has to deal with a family who has never heard the word no, and there is some mystery and backstabbing in between. My other project, called When Life Gives You Lemons, is a slice-of-life story in which the MC can have a kid, buy a house, and flirt with Romance-able characters or have casual flings. It’s very romance-focused and a lot of readers like it.
- The artwork for your stories is fantastic. Can you explain the process behind working with the artist?
The artworks come from different artists. I think there are a total of 4 artists that I worked with for The Midnight Saga. Working with them was a delight as I gave them the idea of what I wanted, and they just produced the final piece exactly how I had imagined it. I love the artwork and love working with artists, and once I make a connection with them, I usually don’t go anywhere else.
- Do you think you’ll ever branch out into traditional writing, or other video game formats?
Never say never, but… I don’t see myself doing some traditional writing. I can’t write linear anymore because I’m stuck in the mindset of giving the readers options. Maybe one day, but not anytime soon. As for video game format, I would be open to the idea, but there is so much I don’t know.
- It seems like you’re a huge fan of horror, are there any horror books or films that are huge inspirations for you?
Mostly movies. I grew up watching Nightmare on Elm Street, The Thing, Screams, Evil Dead, and so many more.
- Are there any other genres you’d like to write? Like romance? What interests you?
Mystery with a romance focus will be my next genre. I love horror, but I also want a break from it and write some other stories.
- What are your thoughts on video games being an art form?
It’s simply amazing to me. Putting a story together, coding it, and bringing it to life through a screen for players to enjoy is almost like magic. [Also] with how fast the technology is being developed, it is only a matter of time before we push the limits and reach the stars.
- For anyone that’s looking to get into writing their own interactive fiction, what authoring tools do you recommend?
Google, Grammarly, and anything that can help you expand your coding skills. Don’t forget to ask for help. Yes, you can do it alone, but you don’t have to.
- Is there anything else you’d like to say or add?
Your story is worth writing, and somewhere out there someone will fall in love with your characters! Thank you for giving me the chance to talk about my game.
C.C. Hill is already busy writing away at their next interactive novel. You can follow their progress over on their blog, The Keeper of Midnight!